Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Gulf states on track for knowledge-based economies

Qatar Science & Technology Park


According to the recently released “industrial map” from the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are on their way to have knowledge-based economies by 2020. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have put this high on their agenda to diversify their economies, prepare for a post-oil future and ensure more sustainable development.

Qatar is leading the Gulf region in science spending , paving the way for the small state’s vision to become a science hub in the region. It currently spends 2.8% of GDP on scientific research, which is higher than the global average of 2.5%. While all three countries have attracted Western universities to open up local campuses, Qatar has attracted the largest number of these to it’s Education City, says the report.

Most of the investment in science research was going into the petrochemical industry. The GOIC map, however, highlights several “absent industries” – these are industries that are seeing a growing demand, but are not being produced locally, even though their needed resources are readily available.

The most significant of these absent industries is the chemical industry. This is mainly held back by the lack of know-how and the science related to the industry.  Other notable industries highlighted in the study as missing from the region are the production of acrinols, which are used in the production of plastics, and the chemicals used in water desalination, aluminium production and construction material.

There is also a serious need for more research into food industries since the region, which is mostly made up of arid deserts, imports over 90% of it’s food from overseas.

The study finally suggests more links between industries and research institutions to increase science funding, since industries may be unaware of the revenues research can have on them.


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